Archive for July, 2020

We published Hope During Heartache in September 2014. I spent the remainder of 2014 asking God what He wanted to be my next project.

During 2014 and 2015, I was still learning how to hear His voice clearly, and I realized I wanted to do more compilation style books – helping others share their stories about how God helped them through a difficult circumstance in their lives.


Four topics came to mind: Cancer … Adoption … Chronic illness … and then I asked God for a “happier” topic and He allowed … Marriage.


I began praying for God to direct me to the right people to ask to contribute to these four books, and used the organizational skills He had been growing in me to keep track of the stories as they began to come in.


January 2015 was when I found out I was losing my job in 30 days … which resulted in being hired by another company in March. I now was working for two companies and writing on the side.


I tried to keep up, but the compilation books got delayed and then I needed to fix the legal side of the equation … and finally, in November 2018, Peace During the Pain was released.


This book tells the stories of 11 courageous men and women who either walked the journey of cancer themselves … or walked it with a family member. It’s told either from their personal perspective or from the perspective of family members if their loved one is now spending their days in eternity with Christ.

It is my honor and privilege to get to share the stories of others all in one place, and each of these testimonies reflects the presence of God’s peace throughout their journey.


As with the Hope During Heartache cover, God had a special cover picked out long before this book was released. In December 2017, a friend of mine from high school posted the picture on his Facebook page. I reached out to him admiring the picture and asked his permission to use it “someday” for one of my books. He graciously agreed and sent it to me, where I saved it in my files for future reference.


When we were picking out a picture for this book, we knew that this was the perfect picture to reflect God’s peace in the midst of the pain we experience in life. When I messaged my friend to let him know which book it was being used for, he shared with me that cancer hits close to home for him, another confirmation for me that this is the cover picture God intended for our use.


Maybe you or a loved one has gone through a cancer diagnosis or are currently receiving treatment for cancer … may this book encourage and support you during this scary time. Or pick one up for a friend who needs encouragement and support.

Has cancer effected your life personally? How did you, your family (or friend) respond to the diagnosis and treatment? Please share with us by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. 

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Hope During Heartache

Even though this book wasn’t published until September 2014, it was the fulfillment of a promise I threw out to God in anger the summer of 2007, around the time our baby that had died was supposed to be born.


Hope During Heartache was the book that God used to show me the purpose He had for my life … and that was to be His secretary and write the words He gave me to say.


I had mentioned earlier that in December 2006 we had a miscarriage. Then, February 2007 my husband got very sick and I was dealing with not just navigating with him a diagnosis (he wasn’t diagnosed until May) but also trying to walk through the grief of losing our baby.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I haven’t experienced the death of a child. I don’t think this book would be one I need to read.”


In the words of a reader who posted a review, “I finally understand! I finally get it!!! I now am able to feel how very difficult it is to lose a child due to a miscarriage, stillbirth or death after birth.”


During the early months of my grieving, I wanted to find a book that would offer me hope … a promise of sorts that I would find joy in life again someday. I didn’t want a medical book or facts … I wanted to read someone else’s experience back to the land of the living.


I found one book that was a compilation of other women’s stories who had lost their babies … but it left me angry. The women were angry, they used angry language and I closed it feeling angry.

It was after reading that book I had a strong conversation with my Heavenly Father. I told Him what I wanted and since I couldn’t find it, I would write it myself!


Little did I know (I should have known better) God would take those angry words flung out in the midst of my hurt and use them to show me His purpose for my life.


A series of events occurred between the summer of 2007 when I spoke those words to God, including attending my first and only writer’s conference (so far) in October 2011, and in September 2014, Hope During Heartache was published.


This book is a compilation of 13 different men and women, some of whom were friends of mine I approached to share their stories of heartache, others I met after beginning the project, each sharing their heart about their own personal experience of losing a child and how God restored their hope.


The stories were written and I was in the midst of getting the finals edits done … but still hadn’t find the right picture for the cover. It was summer and I was starting to panic. I knew what I wanted, but couldn’t find the right look.


Only God. September 2014 I was working concessions at our kids’ football game when a huge storm rolled in. The next morning my husband was scrolling through Facebook and he found the picture. He showed it to me and I knew right then, that was the perfect picture for this book cover.


I didn’t know the person who had taken the picture, but reached out through Facebook and when I told her what I wanted to use it for, she immediately agreed. She shared with me her sister had experienced the loss of a child as well, so when the book was officially published, I sent her a copy hoping it would offer some “hope” to her sister as well.


God showed me a two things with the publishing of that book. First, this ministry that our family was participating in was based on His timing. He had the perfect picture for me and hand delivered it to me. I needed to be patient with His timing because the storm hadn’t even occurred during the months I was frantically searching for the right image.


Second, God used the kindness of a stranger to bless me with a cover for His book, the one I had promised Him I would write seven years before it became a reality, and I pray the book encouraged her and her family as they grieved the loss of their family member.

That’s the way God is – He chooses to bless more than just the person the blessing was originally intended for.


Have you, or anyone in your family, experienced the death of a child? Please share with us by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.

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Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 7 continues with encouragement during the teen years.

This volume focused a lot on appreciating our kids for who they are and highlighting some of the celebrations of their stage in life (Days 11 through 13), introducing not one, but two reptiles to our family and what I learned from each of them (Days 15 through 18), as well as sharing some of the favorite memories we made with older kids in the house (Days 28 & 29).

The picture we used for this cover was once again taken close to our favorite getaway. We were actually driving home after a spontaneous fall getaway weekend and decided to stop impulsively for a hike. The weather was perfect, the trail was a new adventure and that memory still makes me smile today.

If you have kids at home, but they’re older, what are some ways you’ve changed up your activities to grow with your kids? Please share by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.

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While the previous volumes of this parenting series were written when our children were younger, Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 6 was written with two teenagers and a mid-elementary grade child living at home.

Our parenting techniques and focus shifted from potty training and table manners to tools our children would need as they continued to gain their independence.

However, the one “lesson” that has never changed has been creating an atmosphere of growing their relationship with Christ. All three of our kids have chosen to accept Jesus into their heart, so now our focus is to create an atmosphere where they see God working in their lives.

We choose to always point our kids back to God as the main authority in their lives. We encourage them to develop that relationship for themselves and my main prayer since our kids were little has been that they would “grow strong roots” in God so that when (not if) storms come into their lives, they will have the spiritual tools they need to not just survive, but to thrive.

I have lots of favorite “stories” in this volume, some of which include preparing your survival tool belt (Days 8 through 10), the amazing leadership skills of my husband (Days 13 through 15), and how a popular movie reminded me our kids still need me even though they are growing older and gaining their independence (Day 16). My other favorite is the bonfire tradition (Days 29-31) as it encompasses every aspect of the way my husband and I want to raise our kids.

The picture we used for this cover was once again taken in our favorite “getaway” town. Seeing the picture reminds me of how little time we have left as a family of five all living together in the same house. It’s exciting to watch your kids grow up and fulfill God’s purpose for their lives … yet I’m so glad we’re living our lives with no regrets, taking the time to make memories and stay connected while we can.

What are some fun ways you prioritize your time with your family? Please share by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. 

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I was told many years ago when my husband and I first embarked on this parenting journey together that I would love each stage our children grew through. Being someone who gravitated toward younger children, I wasn’t so sure if that truth would be “true” for me.

I’m so glad I was wrong. I truly do love each and every stage our children experience and being able to go through the stages three times, with three different personalities, is so much fun.

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 5 was written during the stage when all three children were in school full time. At one point we had a kindergartener, middle schooler, and high schooler all in the same year. Talk about shifting from asking questions about new friends being made at snack time to questions about midterms and changing classes to encouragement during chemistry and geometry classes.

Day 8 is a great reminder about how having your BEST day ever is really a matter of perspective, but probably my favorite story in this volume is Day 11 when we had a spontaneous picnic at the zoo … that turned out to be the “sandwichless picnic.”

This was also the period in our family’s ministry where I finally had to realize our life was chaotic and would remain that way for a number of years … I could embrace it or I could continue to fight it. If you read Day 22, you will find out what I chose.

This picture was captured during our youngest’s last year home before starting full-time school. It reminds me of the innocence kids possess as well as the last year before our family life revved up with activities, schedules, and multiple commitments. It was the year we transitioned from no more naps to the next stage which has been equally as fun, equally as challenging, equally as rewarding.

I pray this volume will speak to your heart as you experience the normal changes life brings as our families grow older and schedules change.

What stage in life are you currently experiencing? An empty nest? A house full of noise and chaos? What blessings do you find during this stage? Please share by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. 


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Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 4 is a continuation of the encouragement, support and me coming alongside you as one friend to another on this journey called parenting.


I often say that our job as mothers is to be the heart of the home. We are the emotional thermostat … our children and our spouse usually take their cues from us as to whether our home will be filled with peace, laughter, walking on eggshells, or rebellion.


During the 18 years I’ve been blessed to be a mother, I went through a period where my emotional thermostat wasn’t where it needed to be. We experienced a miscarriage in December of 2006 followed closely by my husband’s sudden illness in February 2007, which lasted for more than a decade.

Add in there the adventure God invited our family on which began in 2014 … and let’s just say the temperature in our house has fluctuated with quite a few extremes.

I admit the above to let you know I’m not here to lecture, preach or tell you how parenting is done. I’m here to show you my weaknesses as well as my strengths. The times God has used me in my children’s lives to point them to Him as well as the times I’ve had to stand before my kids and apologize for getting it wrong.


The picture we chose for the cover of this volume was taken during one of our family hikes. When I look at this picture, I’m reminded of how quickly childhood passes and am so grateful for a husband who made (and still makes) family time, traditions, and memory making a priority.


I have spoken throughout my devotionals about how my husband is a wonderful example of unconditional love. He gives it freely and shows our children how much their Heavenly Father loves them and wants a close relationship with them too.

Maybe this volume of Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 4 will be the one to encourage and bless you on your parenting journey.

Just as each cover reminds me of a favorite memory our family has shared, what is a favorite memory you have with your family? Please share with us by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. 


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About the Book

Book:  The Green Dress

Author: Liz Tolsma

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release Date: June 2020

Death Seems to Follow Harriet’s New Friend

Book 6 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

When Harriet Peters came to Boston in 1882, the Robinson family took her in like one of their own, and Harriet became closer to Lizzie Robinson than her own siblings. Now, four years later, Lizzie is deathly sick, failing quickly just like several others in her family have done over the past few years. How can so many in one family die from the same mysterious illness? Harriet doesn’t have answers, but she is determined to help the family, bringing in a new-to-the-neighborhood doctor, Michael Wheaton.
As Harriet and Michael close in on the answer, putting their own lives at risk, can the cause be found before anyone else dies?

Click here to get your copy!



About the Author


Liz Tolsma is a popular speaker and an editor and the owner of the Write Direction Editing. An almost-native Wisconsinite, she resides in a quiet corner of the state with her husband and is the mother of three. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When she gets a few spare minutes, she enjoys reading, relaxing on the front porch, walking, working in her large perennial garden, and camping with her family.


More from Liz

We’ve all been there—started a letter or an email or even a list, didn’t like what we had, crossed it out or hit the delete button, and tried again. Now imagine that happening when you’re writing a novel.

That’s what occurred with The Green Dress. Finding the perfect place to start a novel can be tricky, but when you’re trying to balance fact with fiction, it’s even harder. I needed the fictional heroine, Harriet Peters, to have a good reason to come into contact with and become close to the factual Robinson family. And I needed for the hero, Michael Wheaton, to meet Harriet early on. So I dove into the story. Five chapters later, the hero and heroine hadn’t yet met. The book wasn’t working.

I scrapped those chapters and started at a different point. At first, it seemed to be going better. I was happy. Until I got to the fifth chapter, when I realized again that the book wasn’t working. Frankly, it was boring. So those ended up in the virtual trash bin. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on my deadline. I was desperate to find the right starting point, at a place with high tension. Finally, I had an “aha” moment, and the story flowed from there. That’s how the first five chapters (and the rest of The Green Dress) came to be.

—Liz Tolsma

My Review of The Green Dress:

I have been enjoying this series about true crimes throughout history. This book, in particular, captured my attention because of the theme, and then I fell in love with the writer’s style of writing the story. From the first page, I was hooked on the characters, feeling the depth of their feelings. I loved how it captured the essence of the historical event and how it all came together at the end as well. This may be the first book I’ve read by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last. And I’m looking forward to the next book in the true crime series also.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.


Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or

to just be encouraged, sign up here: www.cheriswalwell.com

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at: www.cheriswalwell.com

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.


Blog Stops

The Power of Words, June 26

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 26

deb’s Book Review, June 26

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 26

A Reader’s Brain, June 27

Rebecca Tews, June 27

For Him and My Family, June 27

Texas Book-aholic, June 28

Back Porch Reads, June 28

Inklings and notions, June 28

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 28

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 29

Genesis 5020, June 29

Emily Yager, June 29

Christian Bookaholic, June 30

Robin’s Nest, June 30

To Everything There is A Season, June 30

Tell Tale Book Reviews, June 30

Blogging With Carol, July 1

Bigreadersite, July 1

Read Review Rejoice, July 1

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 2

Life of Literature, July 2

Connie’s History Classroom, July 2

Betti Mace, July 3

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 3

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, July 3

Stories By Gina, July 3

For the Love of Literature, July 4

Remembrancy, July 4

Reviewingbooksplusmore, July 4

Godly Book Reviews, July 5

Splashes of Joy, July 5

Vicky Sluiter, July 5

Older & Smarter?, July 6

Through the Fire Blogs, July 6

Daysong Reflections, July 6

amandainpa, July 6

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 7

Pause for Tales , July 7

Just the Write Escape, July 7

Hallie Reads, July 8

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 8

Blossoms and Blessings, July 8

Spoken from the Heart, July 9

With a Joyful Noise, July 9

Artistic Nobody, July 9 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)


To celebrate her tour, Liz is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


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Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 3 was also written when our kids were younger.

As with the other volumes in this series, there are no lectures, no outlines to follow or tests to take. I choose to share with you my experiences with parenting (the good, the bad, and the ugly) in order to encourage and support you.

Without the support of my family, I wouldn’t be able to share our family’s ups and downs and the lessons we’ve learned because the stories involve them and our everyday life.

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 3 used a picture from when I was nine months pregnant with our bonus blessing. I was a few weeks shy of delivering at the time we took this picture in our backyard.

We’d had a miscarriage 2 ½ years prior so being blessed to experience pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child again was amazing.

During this time in my parenting journey, I was learning what it meant to give grace to my children, to my husband, to myself. I was a recovering perfectionist who wanted to change. And I was learning how to speak the languages well of each of the different personalities God gave to our three children.

Yet, through it all, parenting is a huge blessing. I was reminded while writing this book how much of a blessing each of our children were … and continue to be. I hope this book will offer you encouragement as you see for yourselves the blessings the children in your life are to your family as well.

Do you have children and if so, more than one? Describe their personalities and some of the characteristics that you love about each child. Please share with us by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you. 

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About the Book

Book:  I AM

Author: Diane Stortz

Genre:  Juvenile nonfiction, Bible stories

Release Date: 2016

Creator, Comforter, Healer, Friend. God’s names tell us who He is, what He is like, and what He does. This beautiful book covers 40 of the Bible’s many names and descriptive titles for God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, including Jehovah Jireh, The Lord My Shepherd, Immanuel, Rabbi, and I AM.

Through Bible stories, short devotions, and prayers, children discover the meaning of each name and how it relates to their lives. As they develop understanding of God’s character and His love for them, children will grow to know, love, and trust the great I AM more and more.

“Those who know your name put their trust in you.” –Psalm 9:10


Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Diane Stortz is a multipublished author who writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her children’s releases include the best-selling Say & Pray Bible and I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, both from Tommy Nelson. Diane’s books for women, A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year and Encountering God’s Heart for You, both from Bethany House, encourage women to get to know God through His Word, the Bible. Diane and her husband have two married daughters and five grandchildren—all boys! Visit her at www.DianeStortz.com.

More from Diane

You can often guess someone’s age by considering their name. Diane, for example, was popular in the 1950s, so . . . that tells you something about me.

But God’s personal name? Well, it’s ageless. Just like Him.

When Moses met God at the burning bush and received the task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he wasn’t exactly thrilled at first. He peppered God with questions, including, “When I tell the people that I met you here and you gave me this assignment, they’re going to want to know your name. What should I tell them?”

The Israelites had just about forgotten who the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was.

But God hadn’t forgotten them. Not at all. God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. . . . Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14).

I AM WHO I AM. I always have been. I will always be. I will never change.

Choosing a book title is rarely easy, and choosing a title for this book about the names of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit took a long time. I couldn’t be more grateful to the Tommy Nelson publishing team who developed and settled on the title I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God.

My prayer for every child who reads this book and every family that goes through the book together, and for myself: May we all grow mightily in our understanding of who God is and our relationship with Him! As Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know your name put their trust in you.”

My Review of I AM:

I loved this children’s book. The colors were brilliant and drew me in right away; I believe they will definitely get the attention of kids of all ages as well. The stories are age appropriate, meaning they are easily understood yet not so basic as to bore elementary children. There are introductions to God (and Jesus’) many names with pronunciations, teaching children from a young age that God is also Abba, Jesus is Jehovah Jireh (the God who provides), and more. I love that they are getting that education in a fun way from a young age. The book itself is titled “40 ways to trust God” and I think this is a book that would be a favorite of children. I highly recommend it to many different audiences – mothers of young children, grandmothers, Sunday School teachers, daycare workers in a Christian school, teachers in a Christian setting, and more.

I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit but was not under any obligation to write a review. All opinions are strictly mine.

Thanks for stopping and connecting here at Spoken from the Heart: If you want to subscribe to my email to receive the latest updated information or to just be encouraged, sign up here: www.cheriswalwell.com

As my way of saying thanks, you will receive a free eBook – Spoken from the Heart: Choosing Grace

Just sign up at: www.cheriswalwell.com

Don’t forget to check out the other blog spots listed below for your convenience.

Blog Stops

For the Love of Literature, June 25

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, June 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 26

Texas Book-aholic, June 27

deb’s Book Review, June 27

Inklings and notions, June 28

Older & Smarter?, June 29

Splashes of Joy, June 29

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, June 30

Artistic Nobody, July 1 (Guest Review from Donna Cine)

Lighthouse Academy, July 1

For Him and My Family, July 2

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, July 3

A Reader’s Brain, July 4

amandainpa, July 5

Simple Harvest Reads, July 5 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, July 6

Spoken from the Heart, July 7

Lots of Helpers, July 8


To celebrate her tour, Diane is giving away  the grand prize package of signed copies of all three I AM books!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.



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The titles for the Spoken from the Heart parenting series were a playoff on titles given to college classes. However, they were all deliberately kept as separate volumes of the 101 grouping because as stated last week, these are not “how-to” manuals nor do I pretend to give parents expert advice on how to raise their children.

This group of devotionals are meant to support, encourage, and come alongside other parents as we all choose to parent in a way that pleases God. And each of our parenting styles is going to look as different as our personalities.

Spoken from the Heart: Parenting 101 Vol. 2 was specifically written while our kids were younger and the topics talked about range from potty training to elementary and middle school issues.

I remember writing Day 15 when God showed me how similar children are to apple trees during the year we were attempting to grow some trees on our property. Another favorite day of mine was Day 10 and the importance of Daddy Daughter Dates.

The picture for this cover was taken in our family’s favorite town, a getaway that we retreat to once, sometimes twice a year. We had planned to spend a weekend with my entire family during the fall, looking forward to beautiful fall leaves and bright sunshine and perfect temperatures.

Instead, we were met with rain and thunderstorms as well as unusually cold temperatures, which kept us inside the majority of our vacation. However, as you can see from this picture, during another spontaneous moment, I was able to capture on film how connected my husband is to our kids.

This picture will always make me smile because it reminds me that even when plans change and don’t turn out the way we had hoped, there is still beauty to be found.

Does your family (or do you) have a favorite spot you like to visit on a regular basis? Please share by hitting reply. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.

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